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CAF Confederation Cup 2019-20 Semi-final Preview: Pyramids FC (EGY) vs Horoya (GUI)

The CAF Confederation Cup semi-finals will finish with Tuesday’s matchup between Pyramids FC of Egypt and Guinean champions Horoya AC. This might be the most interesting matchup of all the matches this week, but Horoya have not played competitive football for a lengthy period and will have it all to do. Big-spending Pyramids are focused on securing their first trophy, and their level of talent is truly impressive, featuring Egyptian Premier League leading scorer Abdallah El Said. Pan-Africa Football previews a true “David versus Goliath” matchup:

Pyramids FC

Egyptian World Cup veteran Abdallah El Said is Pyramids’ most influential player, leading the Egyptian Premier League in goals this season.

Path to the Semi-Finals

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Expected formation and team profile

Pyramids FC are the new big-spending club in Egyptian football, with new ownership taking over in 2018 and the expectation of results following soon after. Last season was the first under the new regime, and Pyramids went through six coaches on their path to challenging for the title and achieving third place. This season the ownership was a bit more patient, but back-to-back losses under Sebastien Desabré led to his sacking and a deficit from the top that could not be overcome. However, this season’s results in the CAF Confederation Cup and the acquired talent makes them significant favorites to claim their first trophy.

In the defense, Pyramids do have the talent to match their spending, but the club had their rough stretches this season. El Mahdy Soliman will likely start in goal, but Ahmed El Shenawy has been brought on for penalty kick shootout situations. Ali Gabr and Wilfried Kanon are intimidating physical presences in the center of the defensive line, both having extensive experience for the national teams of Egypt and Ivory Coast respectively. Omar Gaber is a versatile option who lines up at right-back. Nabil Emad is breaking into the Egyptian national team at central midfield. Emad is a fierce competitor with the nickname “Dunga”, in reference to the Brazilian World Cup winner, and he lives up to the name, never giving up on plays and maintaining a high engine.

The attack of Pyramids can make their opponents tremble with fear. It all revolves around 35-year-old Egyptian international Abdallah El Said, a playmaker who operates like a #10 from the past with precise passing. Despite lacking mobility at this point in his career, El Said makes the most of his touches, scoring a career high and league leading 17 goals in the Egyptian Premier League this season. A player of his skillset needs runners to provide targets for his passes, and the other three attackers in Pyramids’ attacking unit fit the bill. Burkina Faso national team attacker Eric Traore and Ibrahim Hassan operate as inverted wingers on the left and right, both preferring to cut inside and attack defenders or make runs behind the defense. Ghanaian forward John Antwi will operate up top as a proven goalscorer, having collected over 100 goals throughout his 8 years in Egyptian football. Horoya will have it all to do to limit the prolific attack of Pyramids.

Horoya AC

Captain Ocansey Mandela is set to return to bring pace and excellent dribbling ability.

Path to the Semi-Finals

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Expected formation and team profile

Horoya have stormed onto the African scene thanks to the vision of owner Antonio Souare. An influential businessman in Guinea, Souare is also the president of African sub-confederation WAFU-UFOA, the organization responsible for organizing West African competitions. Horoya have won the last four Ligue 1 Pro championships in Guinea’s top division and made it to the quarter-finals of the CAF Champions league the previous two seasons. Overtaking their West African peers and South African clubs through an entertaining style of play to reach the latter stages of continental competition, the last obstacle for Horoya is to stage a challenge to North Africa’s best teams, which they have yet to accomplish. Unfortunately, the global pandemic has increased the difficulty of their upcoming task. Guinean football has been suspended since March, which means Horoya have not played a competitive match in over seven months, enhancing their outsider status.

The defensive line will be dealing with two reported injuries, with regular center-back Boubacar Samessekou and Guinean international left-back Alseny Camara missing out. Ghanaians Hudu Yakubu and Godfred Asante will likely be in the starting lineup, with regular right-back Abou Mangue Camara available as well. Young Guinean international Moussa Camara should be the starter in goal, possessing good reflexes but still a bit naïve in his positioning and confidence at this level. The most important contributor to Horoya’s defense is Burkinabe central midfielder Dramane Nikiema. Nikiema’s effort is relentless, and for this tie, his impact on the midfield and ability to disrupt is the most important factor if Horoya wants to pull off an upset.

A stylish attack with accomplished players in the region is what makes Horoya an appealing side to watch. Containing experienced and young players from several different countries in West Africa, the leader and captain of the club is former Burkinabe international Ocansey Mandela. The 30-year-old represents the type of attacking players Horoya prefers: Very fast dribblers with the technical ability and confidence to be direct in the final third. Morlaye Sylla is a homegrown talent that falls into this category and can pick apart defenses with his passing. Burkinabe legend Aristide Bance brought a physical target man presence up top but retired over the span of the pandemic, leaving Nigerian Sakin Bolaji as the only forward option with greater size. It will be asking a lot to expect the attack to replicate the sharpness and entertainment of its form seven months ago, but Horoya can cause issues with its direct style.


If this matchup took place with both teams in peak form and fitness, this game would have been a fascinating encounter. However, due to the pandemic, Pyramids will be at a much higher level than Horoya, and their talent should make this a comfortable win.


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